Aztecs set to face No. 6 Nevada


Sam Mayo

Senior guard Jeremy Hemsley faces off against his defender during the Aztecs’ 94-77 victory over UNLV at Viejas Arena.

by Aaron Tolentino, Assistant Sports Editor

The last time Nevada came into Viejas Arena, San Diego State men’s basketball defeated the then-No. 21 Wolf Pack in a close 79-74 victory on March 3, 2018.

Six days later in the Mountain West Conference semifinals, the Aztecs handily defeated Nevada 90-73.

The two teams will square off again 348 days later at Viejas Arena on Wednesday night, and senior guard Jeremy Hemsley said Nevada has been looking for its revenge.

“I’m sure if it was the other way around, as soon as that game ended and schedule came out for the next year, I would’ve circled (the SDSU) game first. I know it’s going to be an intense game,” Hemsley said.

With a 24-1 record, a 10-game win streak and a No. 6 ranking in the AP Poll, the Wolf Pack have been a more formidable team this year than the one that made the Sweet Sixteen last year.

Nevada returns three of its five starters from last year, including twins Cody and Caleb Martin, who both forewent the NBA Draft to stay for their senior seasons. It also added two fifth-year graduate transfers – forward Tre’Shawn Thurman and guard Corey Henson.

Experience should not be a problem for the Wolf Pack.

Sophomore guard Matt Mitchell said this year’s Nevada team is better than the one the Aztecs defeated twice at the end of last season.

“I think they’re a little more deadly this year,” Mitchell said. “They have five fifth-year seniors in the starting lineup. They have that age and veteranship just to show that they’re older and that they’ve been through it.”

Despite all the advantages that seem to be in Nevada’s favor, head coach Brian Dutcher said the Aztecs have the edge in two things – playing Nevada later as opposed to earlier in the season and home-court advantage.

“Maybe the freshmen would have not been prepared for (Nevada) early in the conference season,” Dutcher said. “I think we’ve won 12 in a row in this building in the conference… We’re playing better basketball.”

The Wolf Pack are loaded with talent at every position, and the Aztecs will likely not gameplan to stop one particular player.

Since Nevada plays uptempo, all five of its players on the court are capable of being a threat in transition.

Dutcher said he knows how formidable the entire Nevada team can be with the fast pace they play.

“We’ll just have to set a defensive game plan to try to slow them down,” Dutcher said. “They’re all capable of scoring. It’s not a game where you stop this one guy, you’ll have a chance to win . They do a great with rolling with whatever the hot hand is that game.’’

Hemsley said, however, he looks forward to facing against Caleb and Cody Martin.

“I want the twins. The twins, I want them. I like that matchup,” Hemsley said.

Hemsley added what a win against a top-10 team in the nation would mean.

“I think it would just say we’re a tough team and we’re well-coached,” he said. “If we win the game, it would say that we’ve come a long way from the team that you guys saw in Maui. We’ve worked hard and this is just another game to show the work that we’ve put in.”